Phone Interview

A phone interview is typically the first verbal contact that you will make with a potential employer. Phone interviews usually precede an on-site interview and are an important step on your path to securing a position. There are two types of phone interview: an unscheduled pre-screen call and a longer, scheduled phone interview.


The pre-screen is when an interviewer may make an unscheduled call to ask you a few questions before scheduling a lengthier phone or on-site interview. Since you will not be expecting the call and may not be available to take it, make sure that your voicemail message is professional and identifies you clearly so that they know they have reached the correct candidate. If you are unable to take the call immediately, return it as soon as you are in a quiet location where you will be able to speak without interruption.


The scheduled phone interview is more in-depth than a pre-screen and can last for up to an hour.


  • Thoroughly research the company and prepare a few questions about it for the interviewer. Although you are the one being interviewed, asking questions of your interviewer demonstrates your interest in the company.
  • Have a copy of your resume and cover letter nearby for easy reference.
  • Although it is over the phone, approach this interview the same as you would an on-site interview. Dressing neatly and finding a quiet, distraction-free space will help you get into a professional mindset for the interview.


  • Whether or not you get a second interview depends on what impressions you left with the interviewer. It's important to try to build a rapport.
  • Speak slowly and clearly and give complete, concise answers.
  • Do NOT ramble to fill silences. Often a silence just means that the interviewer is writing notes or preparing the next question.
  • Even if you have skills or experiences you would like to speak about, tailor your answers to the specific question. This will display the strength of your communication skills.


  • The phone interview allows you to further expand upon the connection drawn in the cover letter between your abilities and experience and the particular position.
  • Present yourself as a well-spoken professional equipped with the skills and education necessary to successfully fill the position.


Common interview protocol recommends sending a thank-you note to the interviewer no later than two days after the interview. This will ensure that you leave a good impression with the interviewer and will open the door to further communication.